From the depths of sorrow, to finding peace and hope, our members have so much they want to share about this unexpected journey we are on...
Many of you have living children who were also affected when their sibling died. Or maybe you have had another baby, or are expecting again after your loss, and have an older child in your life. How can you help these children understand about baby loss?
One way is to use children’s books to help you approach the topics of death and grief. There are an enormous number of books about loss for children out there, and it can be a bit overwhelming to know which is right for the child or children in your life. I’ve put together a list of books that specifically address the death of a baby. Some of these books are available at the public library. Some are available through online sellers such as Amazon, Centering Corporation- grief resources, and Grief Watch. Some may be out of print and more difficult to find. Bereaved Parents of Madison will supply you with two free books per month. You can request these books through our BPOM Book Request Form.
Note: Many of these books mention two parents, a father and a mother, and many discuss God or heaven. You may wish to review these books before you share them with your child depending on your beliefs or family structure. I also estimated the age of the child that the books, where appropriate, for many of the books.
Books About Baby Loss
Books for Children who were Born After their Sibling Died
These are just some of the books out there specific to baby loss for children. We hope that you will be able to find a book that helps to comfort your child.
Chair of the Bereaved Parents of Madison Education and Outreach Committee
When our daughter, Lucy, died in Nov 2017, it felt like all of life was sucked out of me. I was going through the motions to get through each day. Being in community with other bereaved parents brought me comfort and hope that one day I’d feel joy again. Part of me didn’t believe it. Hating the unknown, I desperately wanted to know when and how I’d feel joy again.
I remember the first time I genuinely felt good. Not necessarily happy, but a little bit like myself again. I was attending a bereaved parents retreat at Faith’s Lodge about 4 months after Lucy’s death. The whole weekend felt oddly normal because our hard experiences were shared alongside laughter about a whole bunch of things like taking one of the dads sledding for the first time (who was not from Wisconsin).
Slowly, I felt small moments of happiness over time. My body was resting and healing. My heart was, too. But even still, I hadn’t felt pure joy. The type that makes you smile from ear to ear without a worry. Unfiltered. Honestly, I was worried that being happy or having laughter was somehow betraying my daughter even though I knew logically that wasn’t the case. I thought that grieving kept her more present in my life and I was afraid about how things would change if I somehow grieved less. I was also jealous that other people could just be happy and feel joy and here I was - stuck and without my daughter.
About a year and a half after Lucy died, my husband and I went out for a hike. We were headed to a section of the Ice Age Trail that we hadn’t done before. We parked our car and heard that there was a small percentage of thunderstorms but it was going to hit north of where we were. It was a 90 degree June day, and sunny. We got on the trail and started hiking. Not even a half mile in, dark clouds started to come into view from the west. Sure enough, rain was coming and coming fast. We could hear the thunder in the distance but decided to trek on. Maybe it would miss us. Minutes later, we were surrounded by loud, continuous thunder. Sheets of rain fell on us. We were immediately soaked, laughing, in awe of our luck and also the weather. It was a warm summer downpour. The thunder told me that “the angels were bowling” as my dad says, and I was listening for Lucy’s strike. I’m proud to share that she got a few that day. It rained so hard that the fields we hiked through had standing water up to our knees. The M&Ms in our trail mix melted from the heat and rain. We laughed and laughed. I finally felt pure, pure joy. And Lucy was still beside me. Both things were proven to be possible.
I recently read the following quote and loved it: “If you have just a little fun today, it’s a sign that maybe the future will hold even more fun for you. Fun isn’t just fun—it’s hope.” -Linda Richman
Know that there is joy and hope in your future, too. You deserve to feel it when it comes. Let it wash over you and consume you. Your baby(ies) will still be there, and they’ll be so glad to see that smile on your face again.
Jenn, Mama to Lucy Jane
It’s been a couple of years since my son was stillborn, and I can still vividly remember the fog of grief and uncertainty about the future that I felt in the following weeks and months. My wife’s pregnancy was abruptly and unexpectedly over, and our hopes and dreams for our future with Calvin died along with him. Life felt both overwhelming and pointless. It was hard to focus. It was hard to look forward to anything. I was so angry that this terrible thing had happened to us. Why us?
More than anything else, I remember the isolation. While he was so real to me, Calvin was an abstract concept to nearly everyone else. Few people other than a handful of family members and friends came close to understanding what we had lost. Some gave unhelpful platitudes, or would ask how my wife was doing and ignore how I was doing. Most either avoided the subject or avoided me completely because they didn’t know what to say. On my first day back at work, only three people in my office of forty talked to me at all. I felt the expectation to grieve quickly and then move on. Either be okay, or pretend to be okay. The world didn’t stop just because mine did.
Support group was a place of refuge. For one night a month, I could talk about my son with people who acknowledged that he existed. I was allowed to be sad, angry, proud, jealous, or whatever else I wanted to feel. I could share pictures of him. I could talk about my experiences with people who actually understood because they had similar experiences. By going to support group, I realized that even though I felt isolated in my regular life, I wasn’t alone.
Gradually, the fog lifted and I was able to move forward. Life didn’t get back to normal, but a new normal emerged. I came to understand that nothing in life was guaranteed, which helped me better appreciate each moment and each day, and to live life on life’s terms. I learned that by focusing on the things in life I had influence over, I was better able to avoid stressing about the things out of my control. I recognized the vital importance of having a community of people supporting each other during life’s difficult moments.
In the years since, my wife and I have continued to keep Calvin’s memory alive by remaining engaged with the loss community. We attended a retreat with other grieving families at Faith’s Lodge. We have participated in numerous BPoM events and found new friends. I have especially enjoyed the camping and bonfire events where I could specifically connect with other dads. My wife found meaning by being a community volunteer for the HUGS program. In fall 2019, I was proud to testify along with dozens of my peers at the State Capitol in support of a bill that would create an income tax credit for parents of stillbirths.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the crushing weight of grief that I felt in the beginning would eventually give way to pride, meaning, and purpose. If you are early in your journey of grief, please know that you have a community of people ready to walk that journey with you. You are not alone. Life will get better again.
Brian C., Calvin’s Dad
My then 4 year old son had a week of excitement of being a big brother before our world changed. I experienced a 15 week pregnancy loss prior to my son being born and since then my partner and I have always felt anxious with pregnancy announcements. We decided to wait for after our anatomy scan to tell J that he was going to be a big brother. Our anatomy scan went very well and we were elated to find out that we were having another boy. We came home that night and told J that there was a baby growing in my tummy and he was going to be a big brother. My sweet J is a sensitive soul and does not like change, so the next hour was filled with lots of questions and big feelings. Then, as we were brushing our teeth before bed, he said “Mama, I actually think I will like having a baby brother” and my heart was at peace. Later that week, we told other close friends and they all shared that J was going to be the best big brother.
One week after our anatomy scan we had a medical scare that brought us to the ER but after some tests were told that everything seemed fine. A few days after that I went into PPROM and was admitted to the hospital. I was there for 5 days before our son, BJ, died. I remember coming home while J was out with my mom and she told him about BJ. As soon as J came home, he had big tears and can’t-catch-your breath sobs and my heart broke all over again.
When we got to hold BJ, I was mesmerized with how many features J and him shared. Full head of hair, perfect eyebrows, a cute button nose, and square toed feet. I always wonder if BJ would have grown to continue to look like a J mini-me and if their personalities would have been similar. My sadness still comes seeing J around younger kids, when we are around friends and they all have 2 or more children, or when I have to fill out back to school/enrollment forms that ask about family structure. J doesn’t talk about BJ often but when he does it is always with a mix of sadness and longing. J has a brother in heaven and I hate it.
Mama of J, BJ and Davis
This story was originally shared at the St. Mary's Pregnancy and Infant Loss memorial, and we're sharing it again here with permission.
Hi, my name is Beth, and in 2016 I had an ectopic pregnancy. We call Baby Blueberry, because that’s the size they were when we discovered they had implanted in my fallopian tube.
My husband and I had been married for YEARS before we decided we were ready to start a family. For four glorious weeks I experienced that blissful and naïve pregnancy that I’ve since realized is TOTAL fiction, but we convince ourselves is real so we feel like we have control.
I did the things pregnant women are supposed to do. I stopped drinking coffee, ordered my ramen without the runny egg, and lamented the raw oysters I wouldn’t be eating on our upcoming trip to New Orleans. I was going to excel at pregnancy because that’s what I did - I set my sights on a goal and accomplished it.
We all know where this is going. At my first OB appointment, we didn’t see Blueberry on the handheld ultrasound. I was so confident that I literally didn’t register concern as I booked a real ultrasound appointment for a week later. The cramp in my right side also didn't concern me. It blows my mind to think back on - I didn’t give it another thought, other than I was looking forward to the next appointment.
My world came crashing down at the ultrasound. It was impossible to fathom how there could be a problem and we wouldn’t even know until it was already over. It was a hard reality to accept - that there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t think or work our way out of it. And it was a little murky whether Blueberry was still alive or had already passed, but it also didn’t matter because the pregnancy was not viable - and could kill me - either way. My only choice was how we would terminate the pregnancy. I actually didn’t find the answer to whether or not there was still a heartbeat until months later, going over a medical report with a perinatology team.
The piece of pregnancy advice that I followed that I REALLY regret is waiting to let family and close friends know, because what if something happens? We didn’t get the chance to tell our loved ones until we were calling from the emergency room, and Blueberry was never a reality for anyone but my husband and me. And then I went through the loss in silence and with barely any support, because I didn’t want everyone to know that we were trying to start a family after so many years of squashing that question.
It was extremely hard and isolating - especially because the message I was getting was that I needed to get over it, and why was I still feeling sad?
My big revelation - which was driven home after a subsequent loss - is that we want so badly to be in control, and so we subject ourselves to all the advice do all the things. When things work out, we pat ourselves on the back and say “Yes, I did this. I did everything right”. But the horrible flip side to this is that when things go wrong - as they often do - it must also be our fault.
How much control do I actually have over the things that are meaningful to me? It’s a lot less than I thought before I first got pregnant. It’s hard to accept, and I still find myself railing against it. But I also appreciate that - I think - I see the world more clearly than I did before my pregnancy and loss journey. A pop culture analogy that suddenly clicked for me is when Harry Potter first arrives at Hogwarts is able to see the horses pulling the carriages that are invisible to his classmates.
Written with love by Beth, Blueberry and Calvin's mom
Greta and Harriet 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 be beginning their educational careers next week. We 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 be listening to precious four year old fears, welcoming excitement and packing up backpacks that are too heavy for little bodies to carry. Oscar and Eva 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 be able to proudly display their bravery and experience by walking their little sisters into the school. Troy and I 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 be shedding tears because the years are going too rapidly and all four of our children are growing before our eyes, not because only two of our children will be walking into their classrooms.
Instead of pencil boxes and washable markers, we helped Greta and Harriet’s classmates’ sensory area by donating needed supplies. What we 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 be doing is loving them.
💗💜💗💜💗 And we are. 💗💜💗💜💗
To our bereaved tribe, please don’t allow any, single person to tell you how you 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 (or 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 not) love and parent your children after they die.
~ Greta and Harriet’s Mama
Submitted with love by Lisa Wheelock-Roney, Junior's mom
This story was originally shared with the Alana Rose Foundation, and we're sharing it here with permission.
Journey to Motherhood
The journey to motherhood is not what my innocent youth would have imagined: marry young, have three kids by 30, and raise those kids alongside a loving husband in the country. Instead, my husband and I met, fell in love, and waited to marry for 7.5 years, in October of 2014. I was 33 when we married, he was 41. Currently, we don't live in the country, and the rest of my story here will detail my journey to motherhood.
My husband and I started dating in 2007, however step-mother status took a bit of precedence, and I became full fledged in 2011. One month my step-son moved in, and the next, my oldest step-daughter had a baby girl. I was 30 years old and up to the challenge. Then in early 2015, not six months after my husband and I married, my step-son moved out, however my youngest step-daughter moved in. Two months later, we welcomed a second granddaughter.
My step-mother and grandmother role made me contemplate if I wanted biological children as my husband wasn't ready to start over, and being a mother at my age would certainly upset the apple cart! After a particularly trying time for my youngest step-daughter, I decided life is too short to not follow your dreams. That was June 2016. I received news that my oldest step-daughter was pregnant with her third child in December 2017. Honestly, I was so upset. I was upset because it seemed so easy for her to become pregnant again but I hadn't been able to after 18 months of trying. Well? That didn't last long, because a week later, I found out I was pregnant! My step-daughter was due two weeks to-the-day before me.
Two Harsh Words... Fetal Demise
Because of my age at the time (37), I was offered genetic testing and of course labeled
"advanced maternal age." I feel the doctor didn't give me proper information, or I wasn't
understanding the information regarding genetic testing. I declined any extra testing. At 21
weeks, I found out I was having a boy! I was so happy. At the anatomy scan, I also was told my son had a two vessel umbilical cord instead of three, which would require monthly ultrasounds from then until his birth. I didn't worry as my nephew was a healthy one-year-old that was diagnosed with the same condition, and I was looking forward to more glimpses of my son, which the ultrasounds would provide.
During my entire pregnancy, I tried my best to keep my anxiety under control and trust my body, and the process. An example of this is not reading anything about being pregnant and not asking too many questions of my doctor. I trusted he would tell me anything I needed to know. One way I identify myself is by my career, and I was out to prove to everyone that I could do my job to the fullest, even pregnant. I had a very hard time asking for help...and still struggle.
At my 29 week ultrasound, my son wasn't moving for the technician. We brushed it off as he was sleeping, because his heartbeat was strong. Immediately after that appointment, I walked across the hall for the appointment with my OB. I specifically remember him asking me if my son was moving enough, and even though I had no idea what "enough" was, I shyly said yes. That was a Thursday. The last time I felt my son move (which was only once a day), was the following Sunday. I was very uncomfortable Monday, and by Tuesday, my belly was "deflated."
A quick trip to the clinic on that Tuesday confirmed "fetal demise," no heartbeat. Fetal demise are the harshest words an expecting parent will ever hear or read. It still brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I was given the option to go home and wait for labor, which could take up to two weeks, or be admitted to the hospital and induced. I could not imagine just waiting for something to happen at home. Oddly enough, I was excited to meet my son and couldn't wait to hold him in my arms. I was admitted to the hospital June 5th, and he was born in the early morning on June 8th, 2018. I named him Junior Lee Roney. Junior, for that was his nickname, even before he was confirmed a boy and Lee is a family name on my husband's side. My third granddaughter was born a month and a half later, healthy.
My Son is Always Walking Beside Me
Since you've read this far, I will now explain the meaning behind the title of my story. My son was laid to rest on June 10th. That morning it had been raining and I woke up to a beautiful yellow sky. From that moment forward, I identify him with the color yellow, specifically yellow hearts. My cousin is able to communicate with our family that have passed. On the way to the hospital to deliver my son, she had contact with our grandparents who said they couldn't wait to meet him and would hold him tight. Several times after that she connected with them to see my grandmother with a yellow blanket. My grandmother would often refer to him, but not by name.
I struggled so much after the loss of my son. I kept myself busy and concentrated on trying to have another baby. Empty arms is an awful feeling. In the dark and stillness of winter
2018/2019, I found a woman who had classes for bereaved mothers entitled "Mothering Your Heart". I did the weekly exercises which really dug deep into my grief and helped me
communicate my feelings. During this same time, my mother had broken her hip and I struggled to be the daughter I was before the loss of my son. Previous to losing my son, I helped my family care for her in her lengthy battle with Alzheimer's. I was reliable and confident. After the loss, I struggled to keep up my role as a loving daughter. She was placed in memory care in January, 2019.
Big changes happened in 2019. I changed doctors and sought out fertility treatments. I
continued to struggle with anxiety and depression. It took four specialists to finally prescribe the correct medication for me to help me get through everyday. I started listening to an audiobook by my favorite comedian. She had written about how through meditation, counseling and reading a medium's book (Laura Lynn Johnson's), she had learned how to address the loss of her brother when she was young, as well as connect to other loved ones that had passed. It was at this moment in my life I realized that I could communicate with my son. And if I could communicate with my son, I may not need another baby in my arms. I write this with tears in my eyes, but this was the point where I let go and knew I would be ok, because my son is always walking beside me.
While coming to the realization that my son is always walking beside me, I also ceased fertility treatments because I was having some terrible side effects, but yet still not getting pregnant. Within weeks, (early November 2019) to my shock and horror I was pregnant. Some of the worst things that happen to a person after loss revolves around children. The loss community calls babies that are born before loss sunshines, and babies that are born after loss rainbows. Being pregnant with my daughter was the scariest thing I've ever done in my life to date. There is no innocent pregnancy after loss. My daughter was healthy and the pregnancy went well even with extra monitoring. However, in late April 2020, my mother was hospitalized and subsequently put in hospice. My son "whispered" to me during this time, pushing me to visit my Mom. I was 7 months pregnant when my mother passed away. My daughter, my rainbow, was born two months and two days after the loss of my mother.
I did not process the loss of my mother right away because I was just trying to keep my
daughter alive. It was October 2020 when my grief hit me hard. I let myself grieve not only the loss of my mother, but my son all over again. Again, I write this with tears in my eyes because the loss is still very fresh and very raw. You are reading this right after the second and fourth anniversaries of my major losses.
My daughter will be two in July, and since her birth, my grandson was born. Oftentimes my
daughter will do something and I'll ask her if it was brother telling her to do that! We just always wish that he was here with her, getting into trouble and playing together as brother and sister. The only hope and comfort I have is that my cousin still sees my son and mother together. My mother gets to be "well" and the grandmother we always thought she'd be on earth. My son still shows himself to me with yellow and my mom with the color blue and cardinals.
I hope you always feel your loved ones walking beside you whether here on earth or spiritually.
Submitted with love by Lisa Wheelock-Roney - Junior's mom
I remember the excitement of that day, April 14th, 2020.
I remember getting the date of when we would finally meet.
I remember November 30th like it was yesterday.
I remember checking in at 6am.
I remember the nerves when the nurses went to go get the doctor.
I remember the room being quiet.
I remember the emptiness when he told us the news.
I remember the feeling of holding you there.
I remember leaving with just a box as now you are my angel.
I remember it all like it was yesterday.
I remember Alister Enzo, for that is your name
Kayla, forever Alister’s mom
To Savannah Mackenzie,
You were a beloved and precious one to all,
god knew what he was doing so he gave you a call.
In my stomach you loved to kick and play,
I wish you would have seen one bright sunny day.
It’s just not fair that you didn’t get to live,
To show everyone all the love you had to give.
You would have been an angel sent from above,
I would have treasured you and gave you all my love.
I didn’t get to see you off on your first day of school,
Or let you cry on my shoulder when a guy acted a fool.
I didn’t get to see you graduate and go on to bigger better things
I bet you would have soared as if you had imaginary wings.
You could have become president and known what to do,
You would have done a great job and god knows this - it’s true.
But on November 3rd god said “you come with me…”
And “Don’t worry about them, you leave them up to me.”
I know you’re looking down,
With beautiful eyes of brown.
I wish I could see your smiling face,
But I know you’re in a better place.
Love Always and Forever,
Dear Miriam Lyra,
How can it be seven years since you left your watery home inside of me? In the beginning I could barely make it through each day. Time seemed to stretch like taffy as I tried to go through hours without you. In some ways it helped to think of you with your siblings who had died before. Maybe you, Sam, and Oren were running through the forest together or dancing invisibly in the garden? But in other ways the fact that three of you had died just made it worse. How could this happen again? What did I do wrong to deserve this? Now that was a silly question I know. No one “deserves” this pain. The better question was, “what do I do now?” But asking the big philosophical WHY popped up anyway as I tried to make sense of it all.
I bet you were cute. I only saw one photo of you and it was a grainy ultrasound photo from after you had died. How I wish I could have snuggled you in my arms my darling. Would you have had curly hair like me? I bet you would have had one heck of an attitude at times. Ha! You would have given me a run for my money! I would have loved every minute, even the tantrums- ok maybe not “loved” but I would have loved you! I still do.
Just because you died doesn’t mean I love you any less. I will always be your mother. I may not be able to help you put on your mud boots, but I can look up at the stars and tell you all about them. Maybe you can hear me. Heck, maybe you know way more about stars than I do! I can do things in your honor, things I think you would have liked to do. Last year we bought a lot of toys and games for the Respite Center. Your brothers helped me pick them out. We thought about what a 6 year old girl might like. Wish you could have shown us by being here.
Your brothers and I will be sending you extra love on July 9th. That is your special day. Send some love back to us if you can.
I miss you,
Share your story!
We are taking submissions for articles to share in our monthly e-newsletter. We believe it is healing for parents to share their experiences and valuable for the both community to relate and professionals to gather a better understanding.
Each of these stories was featured in an e-newsletter and distributed to parents and professionals in our community. We hope that parents reading these stories will feel less alone and that the caregivers and professionals that we trust can learn from our experiences.
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